Rhododendron Culture Expanded at Tyler
G. E. Landt, Norristown, Pa.
FIG. 45. Planting of the new
Garden at Tyler Arboretum.
1971 saw the initiation of a joint venture of the Philadelphia and Valley Forge Chapters, A.R.S. to establish a display and test garden, centrally located as to geography and climate on the Eastern Seaboard.
This venture has been promoted with the cooperation of the Tyler Arboretum, located at Lima Pennsylvania. This location is about twenty-five miles southwest of Philadelphia. This location is exceptionally advantageous as it is easily accessible from U.S. 1 which in turn provides easy connections north and south through United States 95.
The treasures harbored by this garden, and its extensive facilities were described by Gertrude Wister (Quarterly Bulletin, A.R.S., April, 1971). Those who visited Tyler during the annual meeting in Philadelphia are no strangers to its unique fitness to become a Rhododendron center of supreme importance; educationally to the public at large, and particularly to the rhododendron specialist.
For those not acquainted with its merits, let us visualize a gently rolling terrain, lightly wooded in some areas, adequate protection against winds, a soil eminently suited for the growing of Ericaceae plants and a climate median between zones 5 and 6. In short its situation and location are most advantageous for growing, observing and testing a wide spectrum of rhododendron varieties.
We have been most fortunate in enlisting the skill of Ross Davis, a prominent landscape architect in laying out an attractive plan and Dr. Franklin West from his wide experience has laid out patterns of planting that will present a happy combination of colors and seasons of bloom.
The main object of the display garden is to present to the interested public the great variety and beauty of these rhododendrons indigenous to the Eastern Seaboard; to whit, from North Carolina to Maine, and west to the Alleghenies. The Chapters propose to place special emphasis on these plants developed by the Eastern hybridizers; to whit, the Gables, the Nearings, the Dexters and others.
The garden proposes also to introduce Eastern enthusiasts to the possibilities inherent in those rhododendrons developed on the West Coast. Many west coast varieties are eminently suited for the Eastern Specialist but there exists an inherent timidity to undertake their cultivation as the costs of shipment are high and the areas of environmental acceptance are more demanding. The garden proposes to establish helpful guide lines for those who venture into this area.
At this writing (January 1972) the area is about one fourth planted. By Springtime we will have established well over a hundred plants, with many more still to go; but by Bi-Centennial time (1976) we should have a garden developed that will attract national interest.
At present the major effort is with the display garden. As rapidly as time and money permit, a test garden will be established along the accepted lines of procedure outlined by the National Council in 1959.